CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Halfway through an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant, NBA legend Michael Jordan worried aloud he would have to deal with another crying meme for the next few years.
Jordan started crying the minute he began talking about the impact Bryant made on him from the floor of the Staples Center, where Bryant dazzled fans for 17 seasons.
“I told my wife I wasn’t going to do this cause I didn’t want to see that for the next three or four years,” said Jordan about his crying meme that has gone viral. “That is what Kobe Bryant does to me.”
Jordan told thousands of people at the Staples Center Monday that Kobe would call him at all hours.
It’s the late night calls, he said, about business, family and everything in between that paved a path to lifelong friendship for the two men.
“He was just trying to be a better person," said Jordan.
The NBA legend called Bryant his “little brother” but he cautioned that it didn’t start off that way. Jordan said his relationship with Kobe began as an “aggravation.”
But that aggravation soon turned into a passion and a real connection for the two basketball players. They became brothers.
“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died. I admired him because his passion, you rarely see someone who’s looking and trying to improve each and every day and not just in sports, but as a parent, as a husband,” said Jordan.
Jordan told the thousands of spectators he just became a grandfather for the first time. He talked about his twin daughters.
“I can’t wait to get home to become a girl dad,” said Jordan. “To hug them and to see the love that they and the smiles that they bring to us as parents.”
The memorial ceremony began with performances by Beyonce and Alicia Keys.
Kobe and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed last month in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.
“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other," said Kobe’s wife Vanessa. "He had to bring them home to have them together.”
It was reported that Vanessa Bryant, who spoke at her husband’s memorial service, sued the helicopter pilot Monday afternoon.
The lawsuit claims he was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions. She believes he should have canceled the flight.
The pilot was among the nine people killed in the crash.